Quality Control with UV-VIS Spectrophotometry: Analysis Applications in Beer

Let’s talk about beer. Beer originated in ancient Mesopotamia and since then has become an ever-popular choice in adult beverages. From large macro-brewers to smaller micro-breweries, quality control is continually assessed to help manufacturers keep up in a competitive market. But what are these producers relying on to ensure your favorite pilsner is safe to drink?

Many factors contribute to the quality of beer products, including brewing techniques to ingredient selection. Spectrophotometric technology is commonly used for quality control monitoring because of its ability to provide rapid and precise measurements, along with its overall usefulness; researchers are discovering new applications for spectrophotometers almost daily. UV-VIS spectrophotometry can evaluate a variety of factors like color, taste, bitterness, and total carbohydrate measurement. Having this information on hand allows producers to compare their product to quantitative standards and adjust accordingly. Spectrophotometric technology has been used by leading brewing companies around the world to maintain product quality and reputation and continues to show potential for other applications in beer brewing and product development.

beer trio quality control
UV-VIS spectrophotometric technology helps monitor quality control in beer production and development. From color to taste, this technology assures companies that their products will meet consumer demands.
Image Source: Flickr user Lindsey G

Measuring more than just color

While color does play a significant role in beer quality and consumer expectations, measuring color can tell us a lot more. The versatility of spectrophotometric technology offers an important method of analysis that can help determine what is known as “batch quality.” According to the Master Brewers Association of the Americas, “establishing baseline specifications using simple analytical equipment is essential for maintaining brand and style consistency—even for small craft breweries with limited monetary resources. Establishing baseline specifications for core beer brands is important to carry quality and consistency throughout the growth of brewing capacity. The UV-Vis spectrophotometer is an essential tool to determine empirical specifications of beer and wort.”

The ability to draft a “fingerprint” of a specific brand formulation depends on spectral technology. UV-VIS spectrophotometers allow brewers to measure a number of specifications throughout the brewing process, including carbohydrate content, protein, polyphenols, ethanol, iodine, sulfites, hops, and more. One user-friendly piece of instrumentation can measure all these components while continually monitoring every phase of the brewing process. Quality instrumentation ensures proper quality control, leading to better product development and consistency, which is essential when your specific formulation experiences growth.

beer variety quality control
All major beer manufacturers know how important it is to put a unique stamp on your product. Crafting a formula and using quality control standards to maintain product consistency are imperative to success in this industry.
Image Source: Flickr user DeusXFlorida

An approved method for standardization

Major regulatory groups such as the American Society of Brewing Chemists (ASBC), European Brewery Convention (EBC), and the Association of Official Analytical Chemists (AOAC) all recognize UV-VIS spectroscopy as a reliable analytical method for testing beer. There are currently two standard measurements for beer and wort color: Standard Reference Method (SRM1) and the European Convention (EBC). Both of these methods use spectrophotometric technology and light absorption measurements to quantify color and provide information on various aspects of brewing and beer formulation.

close-up beer quality control
Developing a specific formulation for a particular beer is all about color analysis and using data to maintain consistency.
Image Source: Flickr user Cyril Caton

The versatility and accuracy of this form of light technology provide continuous monitoring and quality control analysis, which minimize error and help to improve overall productivity. Investing in quality instrumentation not only provides a resourceful tool for the many applications in beer analysis, but also helps to maintain product quality in a growing industry.

Instrument accuracy and adaptability

Accuracy and adaptability are two important features in UV-VIS spectrophotometric instrumentation. When choosing a method for quality control analysis, it is also important to choose a high-quality analytical tool. HunterLab is a leader in spectrophotometric technology and specializes in color measurement and quality control for a number of major industries. We understand the many uses of spectrophotometric technology and our instrumentation is highly adaptable to the many needs of beer analysis and measurement standards. Our spectrophotometers are easy to use, and durable—making them ideal for hands-on applications and repeated use. Our friendly staff offers support to help you choose the right instrumentation and utilize it to its full potential. For more information on how UV-VIS spectrophotometric technology can revolutionize your brewing process, contact HunterLab today.

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